Sean Dhooghe’s overtime goal lifts Badgers over Michigan in Big Ten hockey
The fans who bought season tickets for Friday night University of Wisconsin men’s hockey games had been subjected to a largely hellacious set of results for the home team.
They saw the Badgers earn a shutout victory in the season opener but stumble through many of the rest of the games on the ticket strip. They watched UW allow five power-play goals to Michigan Tech, three goals in 74 seconds to Minnesota and an overtime goal with less than 10 seconds to play against Ohio State.
What was left for them to take in as the Badgers opened a series at the Kohl Center for what might be the final time in 2018-19? How about the most entertaining night of the season for a change of pace?
Sean Dhooghe’s second goal of the game, with 26.2 seconds left in overtime, gave the Badgers a dramatic 5-4 victory over Michigan at the Kohl Center.
It was dramatic for more than just the heart-stopping final minutes because of what’s on the line this weekend.
The Badgers entered the weekend needing to win twice and get help from Notre Dame against Penn State to earn the fourth seed in the Big Ten Conference playoffs and home ice for next week’s quarterfinal series.
They got half of the job done and an overtime victory from Notre Dame to make Saturday night’s final game of the regular season meaningful.
UW had to kill a hooking penalty to Seamus Malone in overtime, and it got Dhooghe’s winner just after it ended. Wyatt Kalynuk fed Dhooghe up the middle of the ice out of the defensive zone, and Dhooghe beat Michigan goaltender Strauss Mann past the stick side.
“It was a playoff atmosphere,” Dhooghe said. “Tonight we pieced together a full 60 minutes of honest hockey.”
And then some. The eruption from an announced crowd of 9,459 after Dhooghe’s overtime goal rivaled anything heard this season at the Kohl Center.
“You could see how excited our guys were,” Badgers coach Tony Granato said. “They deserved to be. ... That was a great college hockey game.”
UW improved to 3-5-1 at home on Fridays this season and won in overtime for the first time since Feb. 4, 2017, at Michigan State.
The Badgers took a lead into the third period for the third time in as many games this season against the Wolverines. The teams tied both of their games in November in Ann Arbor after UW couldn’t hold on.
The ending was different Friday, but Michigan again rallied with a Jimmy Lambert goal just after the end of a third-period power play to make it 4-4 with 17:09 remaining.
UW had three great chances to grab the lead back on a power play less than two minutes later. But Tarek Baker hit the post, Linus Weissbach fired high on a follow-up try and Dhooghe slid a rebound effort wide.
Weissbach then hit the post on a quick breakaway up the middle of the ice with about seven minutes remaining in regulation.
Daniel Lebedeff made 26 saves for UW, while Mann stopped 34 shots.
Josh Ess put the Badgers ahead less than five minutes into the game with his third goal in the last two contests. Malone’s assist on the play made him the 74th UW player to reach 100 career points and the first since Tyler Barnes in 2014.
Michigan got even when UW defenseman Peter Tischke lost an edge on his left skate as he went back for a puck behind the net, leaving the Wolverines’ Adam Winborg to set up Luke Morgan in front for a one-timer.
The Badgers (12-16-5, 8-10-5-2 Big Ten) got the better of a wild, five-goal second period to take a lead into the third.
Matthew Freytag scored a highlight-reel goal for the second straight game to put UW ahead 2-1. Last Saturday, he was on his knees for his fourth goal of the season; on Friday, he smacked the puck back between his legs from the right of the net and had it bounce in off Mann.
But Michigan (13-13-7, 9-9-5-2) again had a quick answer — two, in fact — to grab a 3-2 advantage on Jake Slaker and Will Lockwood goals 39 seconds apart. It was the ninth time this season that UW has allowed two goals in 60 seconds or less.
UW took its turn with a momentum swing later in the middle period when Dhooghe finished off a disrupted Malone centering pass for a 5-on-3 power-play goal to make it 3-3.
And Roman Ahcan’s solo effort with 2:23 remaining put the Badgers ahead. He forced Michigan defenseman Griffin Luce into a neutral-zone turnover and cut to the middle and fired a shot between Mann’s pads.